Community Interview: Chicory – a Gentle Reader

You get certain ideas about people when you only know them through letters, emails, or online. I was trying to think of a tagline that described my impression of Chicory, and “a gentle reader” popped into my head.
Remember Miss Manners? She would address people who write to her as “Gentle Reader”. By that, she was politely assuming they were gentlemen or gentlewomen. Even when they weren’t.
I envision Chicory as quite the gentlewoman. I first grew to knew her as a reader on Fantasy Debut. She didn’t make a big entrance, but she quietly appeared on the scene and started politely making her opinion known.She lives up to her first name of Grace.
She has agreed to answer a few questions about the fantasy genre. This introduces a new feature I hope to bring you regularly, which I’ll call Community Interviews.
Why do you read fantasy?
Why do I read fantasy?  I actually came at Fantasy a little sideways.  When I was really young our family was much more Mennonite than we are now, so my introduction to fantasy was through allegories.  My mother read us The Chronicles of Narnia and stopped to explain the representations as she went along, up until `Dawn Treader’ when she started asking `what do you think it means?’  (I found out later that she started having trouble picking out the allegorical elements before I ran out of questions.) It really taught me to think critically about what I read.  For the longest time, though (up until I was maybe twelve or so) I thought all fantasy was allegorical.  I got pretty frustrated, thinking I just wasn’t smart enough to get the underlying meaning of some of the stuff I was reading.  I finally figured out that sometimes a story is just a story.
   I just realized, none of that explains why I like to READ fantasy.  I love the pure escapism of it.  When I was a kid I was a bit awkward, so I really appreciated having story friends.  When I’m upset a familiar book can feel like a hug.  Fantasy, more than any other genre says that bad stuff happens but there’s good waiting beyond, if you just keep pressing forward.
What’s your favorite fantasy genre?
My favorite fantasy genre is kingdom fantasy.  I love secondary worlds, and the smaller focus of kingdom fantasy (as opposed to true Epic Fantasy) means I can get more attached to the characters.  I also adore fairytale retelling.
What’s your favorite fantasy ever? And why?
Favorite fantasy ever… you mean I’ve got to pick just one?  Okay.  I think I’ll go with The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.  I love that he doesn’t give his heroes any easy answers.  I love that the ending is bittersweet and honest.  I think it’s harder to give a satisfying ending than a happy one.
Who are your favorite fantasy characters? And why?
Favorite fantasy characters:  Prahotep and Baki from Gillian Bradshaw’s The Dragon and the Thief because I love how they play off each other.  Bilbo Baggins because he is so sweetly humble and grows so much through the story, and can forgive and mourn someone who wronged him.  Ward of Hurag from Patricia Brigg’s Dragon’s Bones and Dragon’s Blood because he’s kind and honorable and has an awesome voice.  Bigwig the rabbit from Watership Down because he’s loyal and awesome, and has the best line ever.  My chief rabbit told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here.  (Okay, so you need the context to really appreciate the line.)   Taran of the Prydain Chronicles because he tries so hard to be heroic only to fall flat, and doesn’t notice when he genuinely gets it right.  Goniff the Mousethief in Brian Jaques Mossflower, because he keeps his sense of humor even when things look bad.  That’s not actually a complete list, but I figured I’d better have mercy on your readers and stop there.

If you were to go on a quest, would you prefer to:

  • Travel to a far-off locale to kill or defeat a powerful enemy?
  • Quest for dangerous and powerful relics through fantastic lands?
  • Guide a Child of Prophesy to his fateful destiny?
If I was on a quest I would totally prefer to go after a dangerous relic.  No worrying about meeting a powerful enemy when you’re already at the end of your strength, no running in six directions after some `child of prophecy’ (babysitting. Yuck!) and there’s a chance of Cool Treasure!  Even if you lose the treasure at the last second, its powerful awesomeness will help you defeat your rival treasure hunters!  It’s a great deal all round.
Who are you, Frodo or Sam? And why?
I am definitely more Sam than Frodo.  I’d much rather be a follower than a leader.  (Leaders have too much responsibility.)  I like to think I’m loyal though that’s one of those things you’d have to ask my friends on.  I don’t think people can properly judge their own attributes.  And I’m waaay too stubborn to know when to quit.
Which fantasy system of magic would you love to be able to use?
What sort of magic system would I like to explore there was magic around?  Actually, I’m one of those people who starts skimming when people go into the technical aspect of magic.  I prefer the misty kind, where you wonder into an enchanted place by accident.  I do like magic objects, though.  I would love to have an invisibility cloak and a pair of seven-liege boots.

25 thoughts on “Community Interview: Chicory – a Gentle Reader”

  1. Wow, you sure know how to make a person blush! I wasn’t expecting the intro. 🙂 Are you planning to interview yourself, ever? I’d love to know who your favorite characters are and why (though I already know you’re a Jennifer Estep fan, so I suspect they’d be strong, loyal, and wounded) and now I’m curious about whether you’re a Frodo or Sam. 🙂 Thanks again for inviting me down. This is going to be a fun feature. Since I’m first, does that mean I get to heckle everyone else when they’re interviewed?

    1. You would never heckle anyone.

      Hmm, I didn’t think of interviewing myself. I’ll give it some thought.

      Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  2. That line, that line from Watership Down! *jumps up and down with glee*

    This was my favorite book for all my teenage years. Who knew rabbits could tug at the heart so?

    It’s nice to get to know you a bit better, Chicory. 🙂

    1. And then the bit where the bad guys start wondering how a guy like Bigwig can even HAVE a Chief Rabbit and what a guy like that would be like- that bit always makes me want to fist-pump. Watership Down is so awesome!

      Hi Rabia! 🙂 How did you discover Watership Down? I heard of it in a `if you like Redwall you’ll love this’ kind of way.

      1. Oh yeah, and who do you like best, Bigwig, Hazel, Fiver, Hyzenthlay? (Can’t believe I almost forgot to mention Hyzenthlay. In my head, she and Bigwig totally got together between the last chapter and the epiloge). And… I should probably stop the fangirl gushing, shouldn’t I?

      2. I have never read Redwall. My first experience with Watership Down was the animated movie which scared me so much I didn’t read the book until I was 14. 😀 My older sister read it first, which is why the book was around for me to pick up when I was ready for it!

        Ooh, yes, the whole “if he’s not the Chief Rabbit, then who is? And where is the bigger badder rabbit right now?” thought process was awesome! I’m only sad that Woundwort never knew that he had met and rejected the Chief Rabbit’s offer without knowing who it was he spoke to. *sadface*

        I love love Hazel AND Bigwig. I love the development of their relationship, and I love that line when Bigwig scoffs, “Chief Rabbit? The day I call you Chief Rabbit is the day I stop running”. It sends shivers down my spine–it’s so prescient and chilling and ironic.

        And yeah, I think Bigwig and Hyzenthlay get together happily in the end, too. 😀

        1. The infamous movie. I was lucky not to have encountered it until well after the book, but I know you’re not the only person it’s frightened off.

          You’re right, Bigwig and Hazel are awesome together. I don’t think the line with Bigwig scoffing made it into the paperback 🙁 I only found out that bit existed when looking up Richard Adams online.

          If you ever do decide to check out Redwall read in publishing order, not chronological. (Well, that’s my advice anyway.) The first four are Redwall, Mossflower, Mattimeo, and Mariel of Redwall. They’re not actually much like Watership Down except in a `look! Talking Animals!’ way, but they are pretty fun.

          1. There’s an edition out there without that line? *gasp* O, the horror!

            I don’t like talking animal books much, anyhow. Watership Down is the one BIG exception.

    2. I obviously have been remiss in not reading these books. Hmm. I do need some more reading material for my daughter. We could read them together.

      1. How old is your daughter? You may want to pre-read Watership Down. The meeting between Bigwig and Hyzenthlay is a little suggestive. Not saying it’s got anything inappropriate (I read the book to my brothers). It’s just that different people have different comfort levels and I’d hate for you to discover the book crossed yours in the middle of reading something out loud. (And yes, I’m a chronic worrier. What tipped you off?)

  3. I have a couple of Mennonite friends who are also fantasy fans. I didn’t realize you came from that tradition, too. {Smile}

    That is a neat interview. Thank you to both Chicory and Tia. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    1. I remember seeing the Mennonite look at movies on your blog-roll. I’m actually non-denominational now, but yep. Came from the tradition. My mom’s from Lancaster and can trace her ancestors back to Fox’s Book of Martyrs. (Hans Jakob Hess.) Seems like she’s also related to every single other Mennonite IN Lancaster. You get her into a Mennonite church and next thing you know, she and some little old lady we’ve never met before will be comparing notes to see how they’re related. (The spooky bit is they usually are- though often by route of `my fourth cousin’s brother-in-law’s dog-sitter….)

      1. Yeah, A Mennonite at the Movies was one of Rob’s blogs until he decided to collect htem all into the current version of Abnormal Anabaptist. While he’s neither little, old, nor a lady, Rob might be able to play that game with your Mom. His wife, Heather couldn’t; she converted after meeting Rob in college. {Smile}

        I met both Rob and Heather in a newsgroup dedicated to the author Mercedes Lackey. We used to talk a lot more fantasy back then, and less Christianity and politics than they’re interested in now. {Smile}

        Non-denominational seems to be a pretty popular approach these days. I’m an Episcopalian, myself. {Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

        1. Abnormal Anabaptist. That’s a great blog name. 🙂 My dad wouldn’t be able to play either -he was second generation Mennonite (hence the last name Clay). I didn’t know you were a Mercedes Lackey fan. I admit, that’s one author I’ve never really gotten into, though I like her short story in the `Magical Beginnings’ anthology from DAW.

          1. Yes, I like the name “Abnormal Anabaptist” myself. Episcopalians can appreciate the alliteration there, too. {SMILE, wink}

            {PAUSE} I know Mercedes Lackey (ML or Misty to fans) has a lot of series past and present, and some of them are rather long. If you don’t want to try her at the moment, I certainly understand. I have too many books to read to try every author folks recommend, myself. However, I think you’d really enjoy her 500 Kingdoms series. They’re based on fairy tales, but the protagonists are just a bit older than most fairy tale protagonists. They tend to have a job, at least by fairy-tale standards (for this, “princess” or “seventh prince” counts as a job). If not they, they may hurry up and get one in the first part of the book. So they face the story – or the rest of it – with more adult attitudes than most fairy tale protagonists. {Smile}

            I could recommend her Elemental Masters series for similar reasons, but DAW publishes her Elemental Masters series and an even longer series by her, so you might need help figuring out which is what. 500 Kingdoms is published by Luna, and all the novels they’ve published by her are 500 Kingdoms. So is one of the novellas they’ve published; the other novellas by her are one-offs, I believe. So 500 Kingdoms is particularly easy to search for. {Smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

          2. I think they have a couple of the 500 Kingdom books at the library. Yeah, I know all about the `too many books, too little time’ syndrome.

  4. Sorry I missed all this great conversation; I was internetless all weekend. I am glad that this feature seems well-liked!

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